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Stanley Opar is an outstanding technician for the European Federation of military combat-simulation. He is part of SAVE, the Special Action for Virus Elimination. His responsibilities involve the supervision of the computers and keeping them virus free.
The main super computer used over at the Historical Tactical Center features what is known as "Time Blaster" technology and includes "bubble" processors that trap and accelerate time. This allows virtual worlds to be created, and warriors from the past and future are used to train the military.
One day, an enemy agent plants a self-morphing virus into the Historical Tactical Center's super computer. The main "bubble" processor grows and absorbs Betty, who is the head of the technicians preparing the computer for army use. Stanley is called to investigate, but he too falls into the bubble and is transported to pre-historic times.
As the name insinuates, Time Commando, developed by Adeline Software, is an action-adventure game that takes you on a battle through time playing the role of Stanley. Eight time periods await you with two levels each: pre-historic, Roman, feudal Japanese, Medieval, Conquistador, American western, 20th century, and the future. After completing the eight time periods, you'll be transported to the Virus level in hopes of saving Betty and exterminating the virus. There are 18 levels in the game with a boss type character at the end of each one, plus the virus level.
Each level consists of many adversaries as you progress to save all the memory chips that have not yet been infected by the virus. This is achieved by uploading all the good memory chips to the main computer to help stop the progression of the virus. When arriving in a time period for the first time, you will have to protect yourself with only your bare hands and feet. Not far off to be found or taken from one of your opponents are weapons that will prove to be very useful. There are five weapons for each time period to be discovered ranging from rocks, gladiator axes, swords, revolvers, to rocket launchers. There are over 40 weapons to be located and over 80 enemies to be defeated. Your foes are created from the information contained within the military computer's database and are generated by the virus. This produces some of the most vicious warriors ever known during the span of man's existence. Some of the enemies you will find are sabre-toothed tigers, Ninja warriors, vicious apes, World War II soldiers and machine-gunning cyborgs.
The information provided to you on the screen contains how many lives you have left, how much life your current player and your enemy have left, the weapons available to you listed at the bottom of the screen, and how far ahead the virus is to infecting the whole computer. This is indicated by a small graph that increases with time. Every time you visit an upload terminal to upload the new unaffected memory chips you have collected, the virus' headway decreases. If you take too long to reach the upload terminal, or haven't collected enough memory chips, you risk losing the game and having the virus take over the complete computer system.
Many hidden objects and rooms are to be discovered on the levels. These objects range from an extra life, regular (yellow cubes) and big (red cubes) life points, extra energy batteries, and search zones that will activate something or provide you with a new weapon. Once you reach the end of a level, an animation will show you transporting from one time era to another.
Time Commando's graphics are excellent featuring 3D high-polygon count (over 500) real-time characters, enemies and weapons that are fully textured and are integrated perfectly into the rendered animated backgrounds. It's one of the first games ever to utilize a drifting camera that provides a third person, over-the-shoulder view offering amazingly realistic game play. The game's engine automatically adjusts the frame rate to the power of the computer's CPU creating smooth, fluid movements for both low and high end computers. The 16-bit environments faithfully represent each of the time eras and provide a very good sense of being there.
The combat in the game is realistic, smooth and great fun. For instance, if you are using a weapon that requires reloading, such as a riffle, you'll have to remember to hit reload and then watch Stanley get down and reload the weapon. There are also some characters that you'll have to fight that are women. At first I wasn't sure if I should beat them up, but when a women turns around and pulls out a gun, or kicks you in the face, that's a pretty good sign that you'll have to kill them as well in order to move on in the game.
The sound and music in the game is also very good. You'll hear yells and grunts, to swords clashing, guns firing, and grenade explosions. The music that plays in the background is of a techno style and will change to increase your awareness when enemies walk into a room.
There are four different difficulty settings allowing both the novice and experienced game players to customize the intensity of the battles. The lowest setting, very easy, will have you encounter fewer enemies, and more upload terminals. It will also alert you when there is an area that should be searched, and automatically aligned you up with the closest enemy when fighting. The easy level is almost the same, except that the virus grows quicker and your enemies are more difficult to kill. The normal mode removes the alerting sound for search areas, making you guess where you should search for objects. Finally, the hard level provides stronger and harder to overcome enemies.
The game is controlled via the keyboard and comes with a keyboard reference card to help you memorize the keys. Just because a card was included doesn't mean it's difficult to learn, and it is in fact quite easy. In the options menu, you can also change the keyboard settings to be whatever keys you want them to be.
Save games will be automatic at each upload terminal you visit. If more than one person is playing the game on the same computer, the main menu allows you to select up to five different players, resulting in different saved games. There are also codes that you can enter to jump directly to a specific level. At the end of an era, a code will be provided to you so that you won't have to reply that era again if you don't want to.
Once Stanley moves ahead in the game, there is no coming back. For example, if you wanted to pick up some memory chips but had to fight off an enemy first, it could happen that you are pushed to the opposite side of the screen from your chips and that they go off the screen. Well if that happens, you won't be able to back track and pick them up. I would have to say that the reasoning in doing this would be for more of a replay value. At the end of a level, you are left with the knowledge that you have missed something and you'll want to go back to find out what in another game. You are also told, in percentages, how many hidden rooms, memory chips, and hidden bonuses you found.
Written by Trevor Bennicke
Click here for screen shots.
IBM-PC compatible computer with a Pentium P-60 microprocessor or higher,
Min 8Mb memory,
Hard drive required with at least 8Mb free,
Double speed CD-ROM drive with a sustained transfer rate of at least 300Kb per second or faster,
Local bus video card with 1Mb of RAM which is compatible with VESA 1.2 or later,
Microsoft compatible mouse.
100% Sound Blaster compatible sound card.
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